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The saints are funnier than you might think

The saints are funnier than you might think

I love All Saints Day. I find “I sing a song of the saints of God” all day long (and I mean to be one too!) I recommend Fr. James Martin’s “My Life with the Saints,” a memoir that weaves stories of his relationship to certain saints in a wonderful accessible way. Martin (my favorite Jesuit) has an essay on Huffington Post today extolling the humorous side of certain saints. He writes:

Stories about the overt humor of the saints reach as far back as the early Roman martyrs — that is, from the very earliest days of the church. In the third century, St. Lawrence, who was burned to death on a grill, over hot coals, called out to his executioners, “This side is done. Turn me over and have a bite.” In the fourth century, St. Augustine of Hippo, puckishly prayed, “Lord, give me chastity … but not yet.”

Some saints were known specifically for their rich sense of humor. St. Philip Neri, a 16th-century Italian priest, for example, was called “The Humorous Saint.” Over his door he posted a small sign that read, “The House of Christian Mirth.” En route to a ceremony in his honor, he once shaved off half his beard, as a way of poking fun at himself. “Christian joy is a gift from God, flowing from a good conscience,” he said. And “A heart filled with joy is more easily made perfect than one that is sad.”

Much of St. Philip Neri’s humor was a way of keeping him humble, as he engaged in what could only be called acts of public silliness, like wearing a cushion on his head like a turban and wearing a foxtail coat in the middle of the summer.

When a young priest asked Philip what prayer would be the most appropriate to say for a couple after a wedding Mass, the future saint said, “A prayer for peace.”

Read his full post here.

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